Software group charges DOD’s Halvorsen endorsed Windows 10

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A software industry group has protested comments by Defense Department CIO Terry Halvorsen, charging they amount to an endorsement of the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system.

Software and Information Industry Association President Ken Wasch penned a letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter alleging that Halvorsen violated DOD Joint Ethics Regulations in comments he made to reporters concerning guidance he plans to issue DOD employees about security on their home computers.

In the letter, dated Wednesday and posted on the group’s website, Wasch calls the comments an “endorsement of specific software for personal use by agency employees,” adding that it “violates regulations that prohibit federal employees from endorsing commercial products and services.”

[Read more: Pentagon CIO: Services all in agreement on Windows 10 goal]

During an April 8 conference call with reporters, Halvorsen detailed his bullishness to move the entire department to Windows 10 on a brisk timeline. He said that DOD has never before had “an operating system that had this much security baked in from the beginning” and that he was planning to issue guidance to employees who might have the system on their personal home computers. 

“We’re going to put out some guidance to our employees in general — it’s not an endorsement of Windows 10 or Microsoft specifically — listing what the characteristics of Windows 10 would give you if you put it in your home system,” he said. 

“That’s as close to an endorsement as I can get for a software product,” Halvorsen said on the call. 

The SIIA letter cites FedScoop’s reporting of those comments.  “Although Mr. Halvorsen declared that his remarks do not constitute a commercial endorsement, his recommendation cannot be fairly characterized as anything other than a commercial endorsement,” Wasch wrote.

A DOD public affairs official couldn’t confirm if the letter had been received yet.

Wasch called Halvorsen’s comments unprecedented and urged that DOD not issue guidance on the products its personnel use outside of work. 

Claiming that his comments have already caused competitive harm, SIIA requested he “publicly correct his remarks” and “make very clear that the DoD is not advocating for, or against, personal use of any vendor’s product.”

SIIA is a long-time industry lobby with hundreds of member companies in the software and digital-content business — including household names like Adobe and Facebook. Microsoft is not a member.

According to its website, the group “aggressively promotes and protects the interests of its member companies in legal and public policy debates.”

Shaun Waterman contributed reporting.

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Defense & Intelligence, Department of Defense (DOD), Departments, Government IT News, Procurement, Terry Halvorsen
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